Open Badges are in their infancy and there are many issues, questions and obstacles to their adoption. However, we perceived them to be a valuable tool for students, tutors and employers and have developed an extensive pilot project across the University to explore their use and value.
The DMLL is a pedagogy innovation unit within Coventry University: we are running a staged pilot study of Open Badges as a mechanism for recognizing the achievements and experiences, skills and learning developed by students outside of the curriculum.
Feedback from students in the initial phase indicated that they would adopt and use Open Badges if they perceived that there was a value to them; specifically, if employers recognised them and if they were University branded (in the first phase, the badges were branded by the DMLL).
In Phase 2 we engaged with employers who have a relationship with the university to involve them in the project. The employers have, on the whole, embraced the concept and some have begun to develop Open Badges in conjunction with the University.
To increase the perceived value, we moved the branding of the Open Badges from the DMLL to the University so that all our badges are now branded as Coventry University.
The other main issue that arose in the initial phase, was the value and rigour of the badge system. To address this issue we have developed a framework for badge development, applied a template for design and manage all Open Badges issued by the University centrally until the project is embedded. We have also retained control of the badge system to ensure that value and rigour are consistently applied.
We are working with local and national charities and education organisations to increase awareness of Open Badges beyond the University and into the local community and primary and secondary education systems.
We work closely with an emerging badge issuing company with ties to the school and business communities to create wider networks and develop links across the education levels. This platform enables the students to access their badges and share them on all social media and online platforms. It also promotes and supports the use of endorsements as a means of adding value.
The third phase of the project is a University-wide initiative working with a range of academic and professional staff. We have projects with employability and careers units, global engagement units, Erasmus programmes, faculty-based projects at course and department level, Library and Information Services and IT. There are 18 sub-projects in total across the University, including two with local charities and cultural organisations.
In this phase, we will evaluate how students can create and determine their own badges to recognise their independent learning.
An essential element in our work is the evaluation and research to support (or disprove) our work. We have completed evaluation of the initial phase, are evaluating the second phase and will shortly begin evaluation of the third, and latest phase.
This evidence-based approach to our work will frame and contextualize the Open Badges project within the University and in the wider community. If the outcomes are favourable, the scheme will be adopted in the University and integrated in the education experience of students. This would be supported by a parallel programme of work with industry partners, and with secondary schools to create momentum from school, through Higher Education and into employment.
We are working together with other Higher Education Institutions in the UK and beyond to share our work and to collaborate where possible on initiatives, development and implementation of Open Badges. In this way we can promote the use of Open Badges and determine standards that can and should be adopted for their implementation.
In this presentation, we will summarise the project so far and discuss the third phase which takes the project across the university and into the community. We will examine local and national collaborations and discuss the potential for working with employers to create the value that students are seeking in an extra-curricular credential system.